Although Iíve seen a
regular pair commuting around the village for the last few weeks, a group
of 6 Chough circling the radar station was the first noticeable group for
This evening I
attended a lecture on Climate Change by Rod Gritten, Ecologist for the
Snowdonia National Park at Menter y Felin Uchaf (http://felinuchaf.com/index.htm)
which was arranged as an introduction to a 20 week course 'Towards a
Sustainable Future' at this innovative local environmental education
centre. For anyone interested in joining this free course check the
various aspects of climate change and it's well documented effects on
local, national and global wildlife and people.
For example, many
bird species are nesting earlier, migrants are arriving sooner and staying
later in the year, frog spawn is found weeks ahead of normal, mountain
species are retreating north and Mediterranean species are colonising
Although some species
are adapting and even prospering the overall scenario is one of huge
biodiversity loss and massive impacts on humanity. Global warming is now
recognised by a well respected consortium of environmental organisations
as the most serious issue facing our wildlife.
Strolling around the
centre we had fantastic views of a near albino Brown Hare! This white
individual(s) has been resident on site for several years and last year I
saw one in the fields below Rhiwlas and the derelict Tyddyn Castell. No
sightings in the village this year but I wonder if anyone else has noted
Llŷn seems to be a
real stronghold for this species considering how scarce they are
throughout Gwynedd and the rest of Wales. Substantial declines have been
noted throughout the country since the 1960's. The North Wales Wildlife
conducted a survey in 1997/98 and found this to be widespread, but only in
low numbers throughout the region. On the way home I noted another three
Awoke to a perfect
morning - blue skies, light winds and sunshine. My breakfast was
interrupted by a call from my friend Steve Stansfield (or Steve Enlli as I
call him), Warden of Bardsey Bird & Field Observatory with news of a
'mega' on the island - a Black-headed Bunting. This bird should be on its
breeding grounds in Greece and had overshot its migratory path and ended
up on this rocky island. Also present were an amazing host of unusual
migrants which had presumably taken advantage of the end of the run of
cold northerly winds this spring and headed our way. Following a Montagu's
Harrier and Red-breasted Flycatcher on the 1st, today Serin, Golden
Oriole, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Red Kite and the bunting had turned up.
Before long I was
rescheduling my paperwork and jumping on the boat in Porth Meudwy,
Aberdaron (itself an excellent birding location). It's a long time since I
visited the island and as an ex-resident it holds a special attraction. I
don't do much twitching (i.e. chasing after rarities) at all these days
but it was a good excuse to cross the water. After several hours Steve and
I had worked our way through the withy beds and lowland fields to the
north end of the island when I heard an unfamiliar call and saw the
bunting sat on a gorse bush only 10 metres away. Cracking views were had
by all the assembled birders of this stunning bird (photos will be posted
here shortly when I receive them from Steve).
For anyone who has
not been - make the journey! The bird observatory (www.bbfo.org.uk)
is now over 50 years old and welcomes visitors from beginners to advanced
field naturalists; see their website for full details.
More bird news - a
Red-breasted Flycatcher reported in Porth Meudwy. A brief visit failed to
produce the bird, highlight was great views of a Cuckoo and distant
Puffins on the Gwylan islands through the telescope.
weatherÖ and a wander around the village. A Garden Warbler was singing
near Conion with a pair of Stonechats feeding young in the gorse here.
Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers called in the grounds of Plas yn Rhiw
amongst more common woodland species.
The waters in Porth
Neigwl were refreshing after my walk and my sunbathing on the beach was
interrupted by a presumed parasitic Ichneumon Wasp dragging a huge
caterpillar along the sand - the wasps lay their eggs in the caterpillar
which hatch out and eat the host from the inside!
Heard a Little Owl
calling from near the church at Llanfaelrhys this evening - a new local
site for me.
There was an unconfirmed report to Birdguides
of a very unseasonable female Velvet Scoter at Porth Neigwl today. I would
be grateful for further information.
Butterflies were the
highlights of a quick morning walk over to Penarfynydd, with the best a
presumed Dark Green Fritillary zooming past at high speed. These are
rather scarce in Gwynedd and this is known to be one of the best sites in
the region. A migrant Painted Lady was the first for a while, and Wall
Browns were frequent. The local Kestrels have been busy collecting food
for their young - I know of at least two pairs in the area with one at the
west end of Porth Neigwl and another near Penarfynydd.
A Green Woodpecker was calling from my kitchen
this evening and eventually showed well on a fence post. Meanwhile the
Swallows have started nest building in the garage - a very late breeding
attempt, no doubt as a result of the cold spring.
The sea mist was soon gone as the sun warmed up.
Unfortunately most of the day was spent in the office but I managed to
break out in the afternoon.
As I glanced up at 1505 hrs I noticed a large
raptor cruising north over Creigiau Gwineu. Something seemed Ďnot quite
rightí for it to be one of the local Buzzards so I reached for my
binoculars to see a fantastic Red Kite! Although I have heard of
occasional historical records from Rhiw, and have seen birds previously
over Aberdaron, this was a village first for me. Although the views were
not conclusive the large pale area on the upperwing coverts suggested that
it was an immature bird in its second calendar year.
Steve Enlli later informed me that there had been
a wing-tagged bird on the island earlier in the day and that he had heard
reliable reports of five Kites over Uwchmynydd on Monday 5th
Still scorching hot, the waters of Porth Neigwl
were inviting so once daughter was back from school we headed down there
for a swim and picnic. Six Curlews, a Shelduck and a 2nd year
Black-headed Gull were present in the area below Treheli.
A mixed flock of House & Sand Martins hawked
insects while several Swallows were collecting sandy mud off the beach for
nest construction. An adult and juvenile Raven were sat on the cliffs by
their nest on the eroding cliffs.
A Siskin south over the house was the first for a
Visited a friend in Neigwl and was pleased to see
a singing Lesser Whitethroat in his garden. Iím always struck by how
scarce this species is throughout Gwynedd, I see most of my annual birds
as late autumn migrants, although I did find a nesting pair in Rhiw last
10th June 2006
Aber Geirch, Edern
57 Kittiwakes on and around the
outfall pipeline on the south side of Porth Dinllaen Golf Course
Porth Ysgaden to Porth Ychain
2 Manx Shearwaters
7 Fulmars on nests
10 Shags on nests and one group
of 10 on the rocks
butterflies all over the Sea Pink,
and all over everything in fact.
Contributed by Andrew Spottiswood.
Strimming a path through my top field was
interrupted by a superb Clouded Yellow butterfly whiz past. These stunning
migrants from southern Europe occasionally arrive in huge numbers but more
often only a few are seen in late summer. This is by the far the earliest
Iíve ever noted.
Heard from a friend
of another record at Foryd Bay, Caernarfon this week as well as a major
influx of Painted Ladies, Red Admirals, Silver Y Moths and Hummingbird
As well as the usual
Wall Browns, Small Tortoiseshells etc a large fritillary species was seen
and a Painted Lady.
Andrew Spottiswood reports the following
Aber Geirch to Porth Towyn
1 Reed Warbler in brambles on
the undercliff at Penrhyn Cwmistir
2 Sedge Warblers
100s of Manx Shearwaters and
Kittiwakes with fewer Gannets and
1 Wall Brown
Visiting botanists David & Myra Blay from
Nottingham sent the following news:
ďThe attached photograph
was taken on the roadside just below Bodernabwy above Aberdaron on
13th June. There are other orchids on
the other side of the road (Early Purple? Southern Marsh?).
Whilst on a walk from Bodernabwy around the lanes
to Anelog we managed to identify 68
different flowering plants, not bad for a couple of hours?Ē
A great photograph of the Lesser Butterfly Orchid, and an excellent species list.
Many thanks for your contribution.
A Tawny Owl was
reported by my neighbour Pete on the telegraph post this evening. They are
scarce on this side of the mountain although Iíve heard a few around the
Plas in the past.
A walk produced two
more singing Lesser Whitethroats in the lanes between Felin Uchaf and
A superb Hummingbird
Hawkmoth fed in the roadside verges by Ty Croes Bach with a Brown Hare in
the adjacent fields. A Golden-ringed Dragonfly, several Red Admirals and
swarms of hoverflies were feeding around a large stand of Hemlock Water
Dropwort near Meillionydd Bach, while yet another Lesser Whitethroat sang
by Felin Uchaf.
Porth Colmon to Porth Widlin, Lleyn Peninsula
1 Mediterranean Gull 1st-summer
west past Penrhyn Colmon at 0515hrs
8 Kittiwakes on rocks at Porth
Ty-mawr and many more feeding close in
13 Sandwich Terns 6+7 west off
6 Choughs pr with 4 juveniles on
a stack at Porth Ty-llwyd
1 Peregrine Falcon flew from
Porth Widlin towards Garn Fadryn.
Porth Oer to Mynydd Anelog
one audible from the summit of Mynydd Anelog at 1730hrs sounded like it
was on the path just below the summit so I started walking towards
it...and walking...and walking and it was actually in the field behind
Tyín Anelog Farm way below. By the time I got back to the car-park at
Porth Oer it was about 2130hrs and I could hear another Quail in the field
opposite near the wooden gate. The two sites are nearly two miles apart so
definitely two different birds.
1 Peregrine Falcon flew towards
the lookout on Mynydd Carreg after sunset
6 Sedge Warblers one at the
ponds north of Porth Orion and at least 5 at Porth Oer
Hawk Moth Porth Orion
Dragonflies [m] at a series of small ponds next to the coastal
path just north of Porth Orion
Broad-bodied Chasers [4m 1f] frequently chasing each other,
mating and ovipositing at the same ponds
3 Large Red Damselflies
[2m 1f - type melanotum] at the same ponds with swarms of
Contributed by Andrew Spottiswood.
This evening I
wandered up onto Creigiau Gwineu then down along to Graig Fawr, disturbing
an adult Hare in one of the patches of burnt gorse here. The light was
fading on the way home on the lane below Bryn-y-Fran when I noticed a
young Hare loping along the tarmac towards me. It came to about 30 metres
away sniffed the air then turned and went back the way it had come. This
continued for several minutes, with the leveret coming closer and closer.
I decided to freeze,
only moving my eyes as I watched the animal coming closer over the next
few minutes. I was shocked when it came right up to my feet then continued
past me, only a metre away!
17th June 2006
Rhiw / Mynydd Penarfynydd
Dragonfly [m] over a very small quarry-pool Ė just south of
Dark Green Fritillary
butterflies are ridiculously common everywhere on Mynydd Penarfynydd.
1 Little Owl on telegraph poles
and wires at Cwrt at the start of the track to Porth Meudwy
9 Choughs mobbing a Buzzard at
Contributed by Andrew Spottiswood.
Six young Starling
flew over Lon Las, a sure sign that midsummer is here. Flocks of local
breeding birds gather to feed on the pastures of Llŷn, although their
numbers never reach the huge flocks of migrants from the continent which
spend the winter here.
European Storm-petrel - one flew west in 1 hour
early morning; also 3 Puffin and 300 Manx Shearwater.
Contributed by Rhys Jones.
3 past today
Contributed by Rhys Jones.
Iím ff to Felin Uchaf
tonight and we are soon all hard at work gathering the materials to make
an outdoor bread oven Ė clay, straw and earth. Itís amazing what effort is
required to mix these with water then pack them onto a willow basket frame
but itís looking good by the time I leave and Iím looking forward to
returning when itís been fired up and is ready for action.
Highlight of the
evening for me was hearing a Reed Bunting singing from near the new
roundhouse building here. Like so many farmland birds this species has
declined severely throughout Wales in the last 20 years or so as a result
of agricultural intensification and the extensive drainage of wetlands.
This evening a family
of recently fledged Little Owls showed well on the walls and fences around
Tyddyn Castell. Iíd never heard the youngsters calling before - a
screeching noise very similar to Barn Owls, and quite distinct from the `kee-ew`
calls of the adults. They soon attracted the attention of the local
Blackbirds who were mobbing them constantly.
14 European Storm-petrel flew east in one hour
Contributed by Rhys Jones.
Mike Crick reported a
Barn Owl feeding by the doctorís surgery in Botwnnog at 03:00 hrs.
Iíve received an
intriguing report of a certain rare mammal Ė from Dylan Sion. His full
ďbroun, four legs, when on two about 10ft tall, aka broun bareĒ
Are you sure there
were four legs Dylan? I would like to see a full description including
photographs to be convinced.
The last known record
from these islands was way back in 500 AD and hunting led to extinction.
Agreed, parts of Llŷn are wild but could a small remnant population
of Ursus actos have survived? Could it have been a yeti or
Chewbacca from the Star Wars trilogy?! Or maybe youíre a clown and the
bear is from a circus ;-) Anyway, nice to hear from you! No doubt weíll be
hearing about Ďbig catsí soon as well?
An evening walk to
Penarfynydd to fish and a coupe of small Pollack were the only reward
after a strenuous trip. This is not for the faint hearted with plenty of
gorse, bracken and steep cliffs to negotiate. Iím glad I did not have to
carry any big fish back with me!
A couple of Gannet
patrol offshore and a pair of Rock Pipits patrol the, er, rocks.
Hawkmoth was feeding on Birdís Foot Trefoil by the point here.
A fishing trip down
to Porth Llawenan on a beautiful sunny evening and the unimproved
grassland by the sea are buzzing with insect activity. Lots of different
butterflies including Meadow Browns, Fritillaries, Small Tortoiseshell and
Painted Lady are around while a variety of crickets/grasshoppers sing
There are loads of
wildflowers down here; the last of the Thrift is in bloom, Bloody
Cranesbill is growing in places and the scent of the mixed grasses and
herbs such as Birdís Foot Cranesbill, Wild Thyme and Ladyís Bedstraw is
strong. Can anyone guess what the latter plant was used for in days of
old? Iíd love to find out more about the traditional uses of local plants
Ė if anyone has any stories please let me know. Thereís a great article
already by Sue Frisbee here (http://www.rhiw.com/hanes_pages/herbal/herbal_tradition_of_rhiw1.htm)
but Iím sure thereís more to learn.
Three Curlew and an
Oystercatcher are hanging around on the rocks here.
A family party of
five Chough drift along the rocks towards Porth Ysgo as I make my way
along to the tip of Penarfynydd. Here the fishing is better with three
Mackerel and more Pollack. A tame Grey Seal hangs around offshore waiting
for any leftovers and trying to eat my catch as I reel in!